Millennials and Gen X to drive air travel demand in next 12 months, YouGov says

Half of travellers surveyed by the market research company say they plan one or two trips this year, including domestic holidays

Millennials and Gen-Xers are likely to drive demand for air travel in the next 12 months as the airline industry makes a slow and sporadic recovery from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study shows.

Millennials make up more than half of the total population planning to travel for a holiday, and an even higher proportion for international travel, according to YouGov’s research, titled International Travel & Tourism Report 2021: The Road Back to Normality. Gen X is the next most likely group to travel in the next 12 months, ahead of Gen Z.

“Millennials and Gen X, on average, have the combination of a confidence to travel, lack of immediate health risks and the finances to fund what could be multiple trips in the coming months and years,” the report said.

Gen Xers are categorised as being born between 1965 and 1980, millennials between 1981 and 1996, and Gen Z between 1997 and 2012.

Air travel is gradually rebounding with the use of Covid-19 vaccines gathering pace in most major economies. Airlines are striving to revive business travel in particular, because premium seats are a major contributor to their profits.

In terms of travel frequency over the next 12 months, half of the travellers surveyed by YouGov plan to take one or two trips and are mostly probably planning a domestic holiday.

On-The-Go travellers, or those taking three or more trips, made up 29 per cent of the total respondents.

“Given they will be taking more trips, and are more inclined to travel on an international holiday or for business, they are the clear segment for travel companies to target,” the report said.

Americans are more likely to be On-The-Go travellers than those in France and Australia.

“Australians being less likely to be On-The-Go travellers makes sense, given the country only recently opened a travel bubble with New Zealand and is unlikely to resume other international travel until early next year,” the report said.

Globally, the On-The-Go segment makes up nearly 30 per cent of planned travellers, and probably offers the highest revenue opportunity per traveller owing to their initial confidence, according to YouGov data.

Travel among this group is highest among all forms of travel tracked: while domestic holiday travel is most popular, this segment is far more likely to be travelling for business or international holidays.

A greater proportion of On-The-Go travellers are millennials, backing the finding that this group is the best target market for travel organisations during the recovery.

In terms of the type of traveller likely to take a trip within the next year, the budget or value-focused group is the largest segment.

Responsible travellers, those who are environmentally and socially conscious, are the second-largest segment of traveller type and are growing quickly in numbers.

“This emphasises a rise in environmental consciousness and an appetite for travellers to do more to offset their impact on the environment, nature and communities,” the report said. “Responsible travel takes in not just how a traveller gets somewhere, but how they act and where they spend their money once they’ve arrived.”

The demographics most set on responsible travel are millennials and Gen X – who typically have more disposable income than Gen Z, the data showed. A further breakdown of the data by income also shows that responsible travellers have more to spend, with a larger proportion of higher and middle-income earners identifying as part of this group.

The YouGov survey also asked respondents about their top picks for holidays in international destinations.

Consumers in the Middle East, mainly those in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have their sights on local or regional destinations when considering their next trip.

The Maldives was at the top of the international destinations list for travellers from the UAE.

One in five consumers said they would be looking to travel to Canada, Switzerland and the UK for their next holiday by air.

With most Asia-Pacific markets still closed to international travel, destinations in that region see lower consideration scores. About 16 per cent in the UAE would be keen to travel to Japan, and 15 per cent would opt for Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Consumers from Saudi Arabia favour Morocco and Indonesia, followed by various destinations in Europe.

Updated: July 5th 2021, 5:30 AM